Sun-drenched memories made at Novotel Phu Quoc Resort
Looking to beat the winter blues, we find ourselves on a short flight from Saigon to Phu Quoc in search of sand, sea and sun. Once ensconced in our bungalow set among lush gardens conveniently located between Novotel Phu Quoc Resort’s main building and the beach, we quickly settle into a wonderfully relaxed routine, feeling the stress of city life melt away faster than the mango ice cream we can’t get enough of.
Apparently, the kids didn’t get the memo that holidays are made for sleeping in, so they get up with the sun, eager to check out the day’s activities put on by the Kid’s Club. After an energy-fueling buffet breakfast at Food Exchange, Novotel’s all-day dining restaurant, we ride bikes or go for a walk around the manicured grounds. Some mornings, it’s tennis or the gym for the adults while the kids wreak havoc in the Kid’s Club next door, chock full of toys and games (including a very cool video game table that responds to touch), organized activities like origami and painting, and field trips to the garden or the playground.
In the early afternoons, we head down to Ocean Bar, Novotel’s poolside snack lounge and the resort’s happening social hub. All around the half-moon infinity pool overlooking the ocean, families and couples laze about on sun loungers, sipping on colorful drinks and achieving just the right shade of bronze all while pondering the eternal question: beach or pool?
This time of year, the water on the Novotel side of Phu Quoc is glassy and crystalline, a natural swimming pool where you can float on your back with zero effort, wondering how you ever got so lucky. The shallow, warm water is perfect for kids all the way to the edges of the marked swimming zone, which even then, only comes up to neck-level for an adult. The calm water is also great for the complimentary watersports on offer, including kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding.
Happily, Ocean Bar and its infinity pool are literally 10 steps from the soft golden sands of the palm-tree lined beach, so there’s really no need to choose. Some days we claim a table outside under oversized market umbrellas, cooled off by the island breezes that carry with them the sweet scent of frangipani, seawater and suntan lotion. Other times, we seek the shade of the open-air lounge done up in modern stone, bamboo, and wicker, an upbeat playlist providing never-ending good feels.
Novotel has also pioneered an all- inclusive option, and it makes mealtimes, hell anytime, completely stress-free. The colored wrist bands turn out to be worth their weight in gold as they mean no more furtive glances to the right side of the menu, no bills to sign, and no agonizing on whether it’s too early to order a Cuba Libre or too late to order second (or third?) frozen mojito. For our family, it makes fiscal and common sense.
The kids quickly become BFF’s with the servers at the sunken bar, downing mocktails like they’re going out of fashion, alternating between the healthy “Vitamin C” with apple, cranberry and lime juices, and the “Bora Bora” for all its pretty colors of a Polynesian sunset involving pineapple and passion fruit juices with a splash of grenadine. The light bites stave off afternoon munchies, whether a smoked chicken Panini with Edam and bacon or classic fish and chips. What remains a constant, though, is the ice cream chaser, delicious scoops of salted caramel or our family-fave of black currant sorbet with shavings of Phu Quoc pepper for a lingering belly- warming heat that complements the tropical clime.
In the late afternoons, while the kids are off feeding the raucously colored koi in the lotus ponds or catching a movie in the Kid’s Club cinema, we retreat to the Lounge Bar with its jazzy vibe and excellent, thin crust artisanal pizzas, watching the legendary Phu Quoc sunsets in blazing shades of red and orange.
One day, we break up the routine by hopping on one of the resort’s many electric buggies and heading across the street into the Novotel villas, an idyllic community of 3-, 4-, and 5-bedroom villas. The villas have their own facilities, including a spa, Kid’s Club, and gym, and guests can move freely between the hotel and villas. The villa side is much quieter, and we have both pools practically to ourselves. We also stay for dinner at the a la carte Tropicana Restaurant, and agree that the Dragon Maki and the Beef sautéed with fresh peppercorns are excellent choices.
With so much to do and the luxury of space in both the main hotel section as well as the villas, Novotel Phu Quoc Resort is the ideal beach getaway for couples and families. Doubles start at VND2,700,000++ including buffet breakfast, and kids under 16 stay free when sharing a room with parents. The all-inclusive option can be booked together with the room or purchased on-site.
Everything that makes the Novotel Phu Quoc Resort ideal for couples and families also makes it perfect for corporate events, including meetings and team building retreats. The spacious pool decks are excellent for gala dinners under the stars while memorable team building events can be set up on the private stretch of beach. There are conference rooms and function rooms for up to 70 participants and a
dividable ballroom which can seat up to 400. The 3-5 bedroom villas can also be an economical choice with their own spacious living and dining areas, fenced in yard for barbeques, and fully-equipped kitchens.